Already as a young boy I was fascinated by the idea of science fiction. This type of literature and the story about developing the A-bomb during the World War II was the reason, why I decided to study physics. Yes, I definitely wonted to crash atoms. The theme of my master thesis was the problem of molecular spectra of cyan. But the my destiny was directed in an other direction and led me into the natural oil and gas industry. More than anything else I wanted to perform my work in a physical laboratory but unfortunately this have been possible only during one happy year...
I was obliged to look for a supplement and I found it in the computer programming. This is, too, a sort of handwork, putting something together that is not going to work immediately. As in the usual physical experiment, everything is prepared perfectly and should go - but it normally does not. So what the hell may be wrong ? The battle between the dead material of computer and the living human brain goes on, sometimes the man can survive.
My first contact with the computer goes back to the early sixties of the last century. The machine I could work with was the famous Russian Ural-2 tube apparatus that was instructed in machine code. My first program was some kind of innate heart decease analysis I wrote as a part of my postgraduate studies at the Technical University in Bratislava. The reason for the choice of the topics was the discussion with my wife who didn't want to accept the idea that computers can help in medicine problems so that I had to convince her on her own territory. I succeeded.
Since that time I went through programming with Algol, Fortran, APL, Pascal, Prolog, C and C++. Now I am struggling with Java with help of JBuilder4. The trouble is that you hardly manage the programming language you start to use and already it begins to be obsolete. Today the world is talking Delphi, PHP and HTML, but tomorrow you will hear Jini and XML and - the devil knows what else.
Just for fun and as an exaple have a look at some pretty pictures programed in java and made by use of chaos feature called "fractals (sorry, in German)"
Here are some interesting books from my bookshelf:
Russell,NorviG: Artificial Intelligence
Pffeifer, Scheier: Understanding Intelligence
Weiss, Kulikowski: Computer Systems That Learn
Ruelle: Zufall und Chaos
Franklin: Artificial Minds
Prigodine, Stengers: Dialog mit der Natur
Levy: Künstliches Leben aus dem Computer
Kelly: Out of Control
Watson: Intelligent Java Applications
Minsky: The Society of Mind
Artificial Life -alife- is a fascinating subject. A few years ago I believed there are only a few ridiculous persons in the whole world interested in this topics. After short visit in Internet I stated that almost everybody in almost any university is dealing with alife and genetic algorithms. After another short visit in WEB I learned that there exist hundreds of papers, thesis, books and symposia where funny folks know, write and talk a lot about it already since more than twenty years.
I started with the genetic algorithm and wrote a
small program where an ant tried to follow the trail. He has not done very
well. I read about reinforcement learning and than about classifier systems
and than about AI (artificial intelligence) and than about neural nets
and than about coevolution and than about game theories and than - I got
a feeling that my life is too short... :-(
I am not going to become an expert. But it is a great way of brain jogging and I have a lot of fun.
My first active contact with music was that with a violin and it ended soon and totally unsuccessfully. Some time later I tried with a piano and it looked like a little better one so I stuck at this second attempt. My father was rather strong keeping me busy practicing etudes and only after something like four years I found the pleasure playing my own improvisations and since that I was more or less ready to practice etudes voluntary. Another a few years more and I was able to play primitive jazz. It impressed my girl friends a lot so I have practiced even more and more. Jazz, not the girl friends.
At the same time our good music teacher at the high school made us acquainted with the popular pieces of classic music and my friends and I we liked it. We have got an excellent opportunity to listen live concerts of symphonic music and we used it frequently. Some of my most favorite composers I learned at that early time. Good music is for me as fascinating as good programs and which music is good that is my decision. If you are of a different opinion you are simply wrong.
Here is some of my favorit music:
Beethoven: The Last String Quartets
Bernstein: West Side Story
Debussy: Prelude a l`apres-midi d`un faune
Dvořák: String Quartet in F-major
Gershein: Porgy and Bess
Grieg: Peer Gynt
Janáèek: String Quartet No.2
Liszt: Annees de pelerinage
Rachmaninoff: Piano concerto No. 2
Tschaikovsky: Symphony No.6 (Pathetique)
Villa-Lobos: Brasilian Portrait
I was born in the Czech Republic (at that time Czechoslovakia) and my first cry was - as you can expect - in Czech. It must have been a marvelous cry because the Czech language is by far the most complicated of all languages I can understand. No other language has so many complicated grammatical rules and so many exceptions at the same time. I assume that the reason is in the relative isolation of the Czechs because they are so far in the West and have the so long boundary with the German speaking nations. About two hundred years ago the Czech language was almost dead and only thanks to a bundle of enthusiasts it became its revival. With the forthcoming of computers the Czech language is every year more and more similar to the English one.
My father was wise enough to let me start with English very soon. I remember that as a child of 8 or 9 years I was engaged in a theater feature with the title "The Eye that See" and it was a story of a clever Indian who could find footprints even if they were old. The Indian, it was my role. I was extremely proud of my indian dress and my feather decoration. The quality of my English was definitively also very good, I am sure.
Later, no necessity to stress it, the passive and active knowledge of English was an absolute must in my job. People say that I speak with an American accent. But other people keep me for an American even when speaking German. No American says I am Czech.
Since I was at high school I have been obliged to learn Russian. Even though I like the Russian literature and even more the Russian music I was very lazy in learning the language. After finishing the university I had to read much of Russian technical literature and my knowledge of the language necessarily has improved. During the time in Germany I have used Russian only ones, in France. There I met some colleague from Rumania who didn't speak English and at that time my French was zero. But we found one common language - the Russian.
My first contact with the German language was through the Austrian TV and as we came to Germany, everybody knew it at once. Now, after 30 years of living there, I still keep using some kind of strange accent but I don't mind, if people say: "I would like to speak Czech at least as well as you do in German".
It was my dream since I had read the book about Three Musketeers to visit France. I have prepared me by learning the language and the red wine. I admit that I like both. Being in France I try to speak very correctly and pronounce all words accurately and the French guys have some difficulty to find out what is my topics. At the same time they mumble something incomprehensible and, funny enough, they understand each other.
It was our son Martin who married a spanisch girl and made me to start with Spanish because I wanted to be able to understand our grandchildren. In the meantime Olivia can use both German and Spanish equally well and is able to translate the Spanish conversation for her gramdma Ludmila.
No matter which language I am using I always feel me to be the European.
I do admire Internet. For me the Net is a magnificent source of information and I am sure it is already changing our world. The best on it is the fact that it is a web and not a hierarchy. It is not the symbol of emerging properties, it is the emerging property itself. It is evolving and growing like an alife entity with open end.
Here are some of my favorit URLs:
Yahoo! - Science:Artificial Life
Other AI Sites
The Complexity & Artificial Life Research
Java Programming Resources
Amazon.de Books & More
Czech Radio News
Composer Master Index
Russify MS Windows
Have you already seen our garden? So it is perhaps just the right time now to do it.